Episode-1403- Planning the Fall Garden — 41 Comments

  1. Jack… you’re losing it. Now you’re making up a split personality to legitimately debate with. 😛

  2. My window is closing fast as well. Pretty much limited to spinach, chard, maybe kale. Of course I push the radish envelope as far as I can

  3. Glad your doing this show. Was just talking to my wife this morning about it. We’ve never tried a fall garden so looking forward to hear what you say about this as I listen while driving for work tonight.

  4. Thanks for this reminder. I placed my order with High Mowing Seeds while listening to the podcast.

  5. Jack,

    How tall are those beds on the picture? When I first started, I began with beds similar to those you have in the picture 10”. Those years were my best production years. Then I decided to do hugelkulture raised beds, so I raised the beds by another 10 inches and dumped the wood in them and covered with compost. My production went down and has never been the same. I always thought the beds were to high such that the water trickles down away from the roots of young plants.

    This winter I will take them down to 8” boards. The trunks in the hugelbeds are already rotted so I can still use them If I break them.

    • They are made with 2×8 lumber so they are 7.5 inches.

      Personally I feel huguls can be used for some “gardening” but they are perennial systems, not gardens if built as large mounds. If you look a Sepps videos all his huguls are HEAVILY planted with perennials and this is indeed what we did in Montana on his project. We planted a literal ton of potato seed but as many raspberry canes, goose berries, currents, trees, etc as Katerina could get her hands on.

      You do see Sepp pulling a lot of annuals from his huguls but they are surrounded with deeper rooted perennials.

      These plants alter the soil structure, I think when you make a high hugul (especially in a hot dry climate) you go from bad to worse. They dry out too much unless they are full of deep diving roots with lots of biological activity.

      The best annual hugulkulture I have ever seen was my project in Arkansas, they were also 2×8 framed raised beds but we dug about 3 feet deep and filled the holes with rotted wood, then put the frames over them. It was beyond amazing the production we got. If this area I built this on wasn’t sitting on a rock shelf I would have rented a mini ex and done the same here. It just wasn’t practical to do so though.

      Here are videos of that install in Arkansas – Note how I was 80 pounds heavier then I am now, LOL

      How did it work, this is a single day harvest from those 6 yes just six beds. The jalapenos, well they all came from only 18 plants and again in ONE DAY.

    • I saw those videos when you first published them. I think that’s what got me going on my raised hugelbeds. Nice to see them again That sure was a nice property. Good job dropping and keeping off all that weight.

      Did you mean to link to a picture of the harvest on the last paragraph?

  6. Jack, if you’re going to use pvc for bed cover ribs, use the grey elect. conduit pvc. I’ve used the white plumbing pvc and it doesn’t last and it will crack. The grey elect pvc lasts (I’ve had mine up for 3 seasons. I used the plumbing pvc first and it lasted less than one,) it bends easier, and it’s cheaper. I put an 18in piece of rebar in each corner and every 4 feet on each side. I then bend the conduit to fit over each piece of rebar and ran another piece straight over the tops – zip tied at each intersection. This creates a mini hoop house that I cover with 6 mil clear plastic during the winter for year round production ( I use 6in. pvc pipe, capped at both ends, painted black, 3/4 filled with water so it doesn’t crack in our Delaware winter and lay these between each row to provide additional heat during the night and cloudy days.) During the summer, I use the same frame to hold row cover to keep out cabbage worms, squash bugs, and squash vine borers (Yes, I have to hand pollinate the squash, but would any way.) During the winter the terrarium effect keeps me from having to water very often, but I do have irrigation in the beds that allows me to introduce both water and compost tea when needed. To me, fall and winter gardening is truly the skill to master. There is nothing like going out to the garden, brushing the snow off off the plastic and harvesting fresh lettuce, broccoli, and spinach.

  7. Kale leaf trick – pick them, bag em, freeze em then thaw and sauté or steam. Good way to tenderize this beast.
    And be extra careful with those aquariums, or any greenhouse contraptions made from plate glass. Horrific, potentially life ending cuts if they break when being moved around. Chime in on what happened to you John, if you’re out there.
    The storm door green house idea sounds pretty good.

  8. I use a conduit bender and make two 45 degree angles then a 90, slide it over rebar, EMT is much sturdier, up here anyway

  9. Anyone have suggestions for how to keep deer out? (I don’t think I’ve ever seen a deer fence in pictures and videos of Jack’s place).

    • Well in Texas where I have lived it has never been a concern. In Arkansas I ended up with a green island at the top of a brown mountain and it was a deer magnet. All I did was run one wire of electric around my gardens. I put foil on the wire about each 10 feet, smeared the foil with peanut butter. A few licks here and there and a few deer going ass over end and no more deer damage.

      • Lol…well I live in SoTex and I have photos of the buggers standing in line at the gate of my garden area…think I’ll try the electric-wire thing!

  10. According to Jo Robinson’s Book “Eating on the Wild Side” broccoli loses half its nutrients within 24 hours of being picked. If true, another reason to grow your own and eat fresh!

    • I would agree with that, I don’t agree though if you blanch, and flash freeze.

      I feel if you do that you loose very little and can still store it.

    • You are probably right on the flash freeze. I know some vegatable/fruits degrade with freezing while others hold their nutrients pretty well. I was more alluding to eating it fresh from the garden instead of some that has been shipped from who knows where!

    • You would love to see this place right now Mike. All the swale berms are covered in black oil sunflowers, must be 2000 of them if there is one, some are small but there are tons of em. Bird food in Sept and Bee Food now.

      The berms are also covered in flowering cow peas. By the time the sun flowers and peas ebb in flower buckwheat will be on the menu.

      My hives are doing varying degrees of good, the center hive is like doing A+ good, damn near full on the lower box, honey and brood building in the top box. West hive is about a B+, not as heavy but doing well. East hive is like a C, looks like a queen hauled ass but the girls made a new one because we have young brood in there.

      We may have to steal some brood from one hive to another at some point.

  11. hey Jack,

    when talking about fertilizers, you said ‘blood meal’, then corrected yourself with ‘bone meal’ for nitrogen… were you right the first time? thanks

    • The answer is both, I am using bone though.

      Blood Meal is 12-0-0

      Bone Mean is 6-9-0

      Both are significant sources of nitrogen. Both are useful as such.

  12. Yes, Jack, finally my garden is booming, but the lettuce is bolting, in the function stack state of mind, that is my seed for next year. Picked some Poblano’s now making a chili now to pressure can tomorrow. Mousemelons need another two weeks…

  13. It’s funny seeing some of the progressions you got at your place because how much they’re mirroring some of the things we’re doing here. The one thing I”ve learned this last year (and late last year) is the smaller you can make your garden the better (minus doing bulk things like onions/garlics/sweet potatos). Not to mention more confined. The more I think about it the more I like the idea of doing raised beds, and the biggest thing that has been keeping me from putting in our new garden (english style) is that I am going to have to till up the ground and do a hell of a lot of work. I mean a hell of a lot.

    I could build raised beds in hell a few hours, get a couple truck loads of soil, add ammendments, done. The 4 asparagus beds that we have that we built (Raised beds) have no weeds. Our massive amazing looking (when weeded) contour garden? Totally and completely out of control. We’re looking at turning it into an orchard.

  14. Hey Jack,

    Have you tried Roasted Cabbage? It is super yummy. Cut your cabbage into slices. Place flat across a cookie sheet. Sprinkle olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and parm cheese. Put in an oven at 400 F until it is just slightly browned. (about 35 minutes).

    This makes the texture and taste so much better. I find raw cabbage to be a little gross. This recipe turns cabbage into a treat. Even my toddler enjoys eating this.

    • In a similar vein to this, my very polish mother would chop up cabbage and sweat it down in a pot with a little bit of butter. Then once it sweated down significantly she would take the lid off and boil the juice off, while browning the cabbage. We would eat that with kielbasa (polish sausage, not sure how commonly known it is). Absolutely exceptional! The browned pieces of cabbage are fantastic.

  15. I’m having a problem finding the organic choice liquid fertilizer around where I live in south central Pennsylvania. I have a couple of peppers that started to yellow so Im trying the Epson salt trick of watering them with it mixed in water. Guess I could also use the bone meal I have.

    I also used Prime to order a bag of worm casting and rock dust for my garden. Should those only be added before planting or periodically throughout the season?

  16. I add a ton of greensand, lava sand, Soil Mender’s Planters II Minerals, and Azomite to all my beds in copious quantities. I was was modelling it after John Kohler’s work on you tube, Growing Your Greens. Minerals make all the difference on the taste. I have some other in ground beds that are just compost amended to the native East Texas soil and I do not have half the flavor on the exact same cultivars grown in it. The soil really does make the taste.

  17. Jack –
    Regarding your recipe for your raised beds: I ran it by Steve Solomon (he was one of your guests – his new book is The Intelligent Gardener) on his Yahoo Forum called soil and health. I just referred to you as “my friend”. Here is his response:

    “I no longer do things that way even though that approach will almost certainly grow plants your friend will consider vegetables, and because he grew them, the novelty, the pleasure, will make him think they are delicious. But how does your friend know he needs heaps of K and some Mg from greensand or phosphorus and why not zinc or copper or manganese or sulfur? Or calcium !!
    And by the way, that “soil mix” is not soil, and in a few years all that ‘ll be left of it is the sand. To grow stuff well, sand does not need to hold half compost, although half compost won’t do harm unless it unbalances everything in terms of mineral elements.


    • Let me just say, you will note he was on ONE time. There is a reason.
      People like Steve are really smart, sometimes too smart for their own good
      and this causes smart people to behave stupidly.

      My beds are sitting on 2-4 inches of akaline soil, the soil is a PH or 7.8
      and higher in some places. He is married to an ideal one that doesn’t work
      everywhere. 100 percent of the material for these beds had to be brought
      in. Again Steve may be smart but his comments below were barely worth the
      time I just took from my life to write them.

      I have done this my entire life and for more than a few years at a single location. Frankly my concern for what Steve thinks is far lower for my concern about the polar bears.

  18. Jack,

    I was going to put in some garden beds like yours. On your boxes did you use pressure treated lumber? Do you think that if I used pressure treated lumber, I would have leaching issues. Also regarding treated wood, should I not use it to build a chicken coop and duck house?

    Thank you,


    • I see pressure treated as a minor risk but to me not worth doing. I have found boxes like these last minimum 5 years and usually longer with non treated wood. They are so easy to make and cheap in cost that replacing them in 6-7 years just seems better to me then say leaching CCA into soil.

      Frankly at that point the beds would be so well established they could easily become free standing and just let the wood rot away in its own time.

      BUT if you had pressure treated beds and I came to your house I would eat what came from your garden without a second thought. When I put in my tree/plant propagation beds with intermittent misting, I will use pressure treated then definitely.